Engine build / rebuild

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  #1  
Old 04-09-16, 06:07 PM
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Engine build / rebuild

Hi. I am looking to buy a classic car to rebuild. I am planning to do an engine rebuild--unless I find a car with an engine that has been recently rebuilt--but I am not looking for that and, really, am looking forward to doing a rebuild.

Although my engine experience is limited, I am confident that I an do a rebuild with a rebuild kit (using the internet, manuals, etc to work my way through it)

I have found '65 Thunderbird. According to the owner, the engine block is cracked.

Now, had the engine block not been cracked, I planned to buy an engine rebuild kit.

Since it IS cracked, I will need an engine block.

So, my question is, if I find the correct engine block, and get a rebuild kit for it, will that include everything I need to build a working engine that can then be dropped in the car?

I'm not sure if a rebuild kit includes EVERYTHING but the block, or if there are more parts that would be needed.

Any thoughts?
 
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Old 04-09-16, 06:17 PM
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Are you more interested in the action of doing the rebuild or having the car in operational condition as soon as you can? If the former, then buying an engine from a junkyard may suffice since you will probably need to rebuild it anyway. If the latter, buy a crate engine and all you have to do is install the periphery, put it in the car and go.

Having rebuilt my share, I can say it wasn't the love of my life. Tedious work, and you can't have any parts left over. I am not sure what an engine rebuild kit is. It will usually include gaskets, but rarely have I seen a "kit" that will have all the workings to rebuild a nekkid block. Do you have the ability to have surfaces measured for size and run out? Just a few things that will pop up.
 
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Old 04-09-16, 06:20 PM
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Have you ever rebuilt an engine before ?
The rebuild kits don't usually come with everything you need and you do need some knowledge of what to do. It's not like painting by number.
 
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Old 04-09-16, 06:21 PM
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If you can find what's called a 'short block', that would cover everything below the heads already assembled. Then you have the heads rebuilt or buy rebuilt heads & you can drive around your neighborhood.
 
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Old 04-09-16, 06:37 PM
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It is a combination of both--I want to do a build for fun but also know that, if the car is 50 years old and never rebuilt, it probably SHOULD be done.

I have no problem with this taking a while. Even if it takes a few months.

Actually I was hoping it was SORT of a paint by numbers deal. You know, start with a block and kit, then just follow the instructions. But even without it being that simple, I fine taking my time and doing research every step of the way.

I planned to find the correct block at a junkyard (or craigslist). If it is the full engine, maybe that is even better as taking it apart would give me the steps to put it back together.

The problem with a crate engine is the price.

The problem with any of this is the weight of the engine. I guess I would get an engine hoist at Harbor Frieght and that would enable me to get it in the car when done. But how would i get one home form the junkyard? The engine in this model is a 390 V8 and from what I am finding is nearly 600 lbs! Thats why I figured only the bock would be a bit more managable.
 
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Old 04-10-16, 12:12 AM
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The problem with a crate engine is the price.
None of it is going to be cheap & it's not paint by numbers. I still don't know what a rebuild kit is for an engine. I've been out of the business for a long time. Maybe it's something new. We used to rent a hoist for a day. Don't buy a hoist. You can rent a vehicle to transport the block too. I remember transporting a 4 cyl engine for an MG in the trunk of 73 Grand Prix from a junk yard on Peartree Ave in The Bronx over the Throgs Neck Bridge. How much are you willing to spend on your project?
 
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Old 04-10-16, 12:39 AM
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A few months? Unless you spend every free minute on it and have no cash flow problems, it could likely be a few YEARS.

You can't just think engine, what about the 50 y/o suspension parts? Will probably need all components replaced (ball joints, tie rods, bearings, brakes). And what about electrical? If the car has been sitting for any length of time, especially outside, count on gnawed and brittle frayed wires.

Even if it were just the engine, it's still going to have to go to a machine shop so that can check things out. Bare block, figure a couple of hundred. Full engine that they have to go through, figure a couple of thousand. Somewhere in between if they tear it down and give you back the part to re-assemble. Just having the heads done would prob be $300-400 or more.

Tools...what do you have? Engine stand? Engine hoist? Complete set of wrenches and sockets? Torque wrench even?
 
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Old 04-10-16, 01:58 AM
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I rebuilt a few engines with my daddy when I was in my teens. I also had three semesters of auto mechanics in high school. If you have never done this kind of work then you WILL need some help. Even a shop manual for the particular vehicle will only go so far to help. You will need a generic manual on auto mechanics as well as a manual that goes into detail on engine rebuilding.

There will be several specialized tools recommended by the manufacturer to deal with certain aspects of the job. Usually there are work-arounds for the specialized tools but the special tools make the work easier and safer. You will rarely find the tools at the local big box mega-mart homecenter and often not even at the auto parts stores. Specialized tools can often cost an arm and a leg but not using them can under some circumstances put a finger or eye in jeopardy.

You will probably need special measuring tools such as micrometers to measure the wear in bearing journals and cylinder bores. These are expensive tools but in may cases can be rented. Cleaning of the parts is very important and one of the best methods is a "hot tank" where the disassembled components are placed in a caustic solution heated to boiling and allowed to "cook" for several hours. At the same time, there are certain materials that you must NOT place in a hot tank such as aluminum or they will be destroyed.

Cylinder heads will need to be completely disassembled and all the valve parts measured to be sure they are in tolerance for rebuild. Cast iron heads can be hot-tanked but not aluminum which will have to be scrubbed with a hot detergent solution and (preferably) steam-cleaned. All oil passages in the heads and the block need to be rodded out to ensure all the gunk is removed and the passages clear.

Cylinder head and block mating surfaces need to measures for flatness and may need surface machining. Cylinder bores will need at the very least to be honed and may need to be bored oversize. The latter requires the services of an automotive machine shop as does crankshaft re-grinding. If the cylinders need to be re-bored then new, oversized pistons will need to be purchased.

Rebuilding the valves on the cylinder head can be done with hand tools but a proper valve grinding machine will do a superior job. This can also be done at an automotive machine shop but the more you have done the more it will cost.

Lots, lots more.

If you REALLY want to learn how an engine is built and how it works, then this is a good project but if your goal is to have a classic car with minimal work you would be best to buy a complete engine or simply write the check for a complete engine rebuild. If you have a son, or daughter, that is crazy about cars this can be a fun learning experience for both of you. Note well that it is hard, dirty work and can at times be VERY frustrating as well as expensive. There is a reason why complete engine rebuilds are rarely done these days.
 
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Old 04-10-16, 04:45 AM
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I spend 40 years as a mechanic before I got smart. Would not even think of rebuilding a engine at home. I don't have all the special tools needed to do a proper job. Do you have a engine stand? a must to do job. Just one of the tools needed.
 
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Old 04-10-16, 10:11 PM
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Yes, I figured the engine would need to go to a machine shop for honing/boring and whatever else would need to be done for a proper job.

I can rent or buy a hoist, either way it is fine. If it is cheap enough, then I could buy one on HF or craigslist. I am not overly concerned about the money if doing it myself. I know it probably sounds strange. I dont have a problem getting the equipment, a hoist, an engine stand, tools, etc. I would prefer to spend $X on all of that than $X for a crate engine.

Although, the prices I was seeing for a crate are in the $4k area. And i thought IF a rebuild kit is around $500 and a block was about $400 (which are the prices I am finding) the rest would be labor--IF that would equal a complete engine. Of course, I have been having a problem finding too much info so maybe crates can be found much cheaper. If I could have a crate found and delivered for $2K, that might change my thinking entirely.

The point of the project--one of the points anyway--is to do it and learn along with my 13 year old son.

It just seems that if I were to take an engine apart (then have any machine work done on it--boreing, honing, etc) that I should be able to put it back together just as easily. No?
 
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Old 04-11-16, 03:13 AM
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I think it is great that you want to share this experience with your son. But I don't want you to over simplify the situation. It will not be an "easy" job. You will get frustrated, you will throw wrenches, and may say things your son shouldn't hear . I would rent a hoist for the short term of removing the engine, and buy an engine stand, since you will have the engine on it for a rather long time rebuilding it. Once complete you can rent a hoist to put it back in the car.
 
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Old 04-11-16, 05:55 AM
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I would definitely buy the stand. The hoist I guess would be smarter to rent.

I understand what you are saying--that I should not oversimplify it. But. I also dont want to over complicate it. In the end, isnt it simply putting one piece on top of another.

Of course, not ever having done it, that may very well be a foolish thing to say. I am alwasy wary of advice that definitely states you cant do something, only to find out that, really, you can if you just take your time. (not saying that is the case here)

Im a bit surprised there arent manuals that are, literally, step-by-step instructions on how to assemble an engine, or specific engines.

I'm also trying to imagine the difficult parts. For example, I recently had the starter clutch and recoil spring on my very old snowblower break. I struggled to get the new spring installed--trying to wind it inside the housing cover, close the cover, and then connect the notch in the spring to the small hole in the housing
--not sure if that example is making sense--finally I called the guy I got the parts from and he gave me a quick trick--close the housing first, connect the spring, then manually wind it with a piece of 3/4 stock. It was a "duh" moment and the job took me 3 minutes.

So, yes, dealing with springs and coils and moving parts are touch to assemble and can be a pain. But any rebuild videos I have see dont show those kinds of issues--or omit them or gloss over them maybe.

Maybe its just a classic case of me not knowing what I dont know.

Is the engine type a factor? Is a smaller engine any easier? Lets say a small straight6 as opposed to a big V8 400
 
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Old 04-11-16, 06:18 AM
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Get a old lawn mower engine, The starter and ignition system will be different but the basic engine will be the same but smaller and easier to handle. Taking this apart will give you a small idea of what a 8 cylinder engine will take. Also about 10 times harder to do it you never done one. Straight six is a little easier but not much.
 
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Old 04-11-16, 07:01 AM
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Get a old lawn mower engine, The starter and ignition system will be different but the basic engine will be the same but smaller and easier to handle.
I assume an old snowblower engine would be just as good as old lawnmower? My snowblower engine is an old Briggs & Stratton circa 1965:
Briggs and Stratton 142300 Series Parts List and Diagram : eReplacementParts.com
Its always been tough to start since I got it used about 15 years ago (but works great once it starts). I need to put gas into the intake. A knowledgable guy told me probably loss of compression due to using ethanol gas which these engines were not designed for--if I am remembering correctly.
 
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Old 04-11-16, 08:03 AM
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Or maybe this is a better way for me to put this into context.

Lets say you were to pull an engine from a car.

Would it be that difficult to break it down, then put it back together? Again, maybe I am just being naive but I havent come across anything that after being taken apart, cant be put back together.

And wouldnt a rebuild be just that, just that you are putting it back together with new parts instead of the existing ones? (after have the block bored/honed/cleaned/etc by a machine shop)

I think that is the sticking point for me... take apart, put back together. Not that simple?
 
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Old 04-11-16, 08:43 AM
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There is more to it than just replacing parts. It takes a little knowledge to be able to look and see what needs to be done. Would the cylinders just need to be hone, bored out with oversized pistons [or just oversized rings] or are sleeves needed. That is just one example as there are similar situations throughout the engine.
 
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Old 04-11-16, 09:23 AM
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You can look . . . . but I doubt that there is a "kit" for rebuilding a V8 Engine.

You probably need to know the specific measurements of your engine and what work, if any, has been performed on it in the past. I think you'll have to assemble you own "kit".

Meanwhile, regarding this diagnosis of a "cracked block", did you actually see the crack . . . . or could it be a popped freeze plug. It's just an unusual condition without an accompanying explanation of how this "condition" arose.

I wouldn't rule that vehicle out based upon just that comment without further evaluation of BOTH the Engine and my assessment of that Owner's knowledge.
 
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Old 04-11-16, 10:04 AM
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There is more to it than just replacing parts. It takes a little knowledge to be able to look and see what needs to be done. Would the cylinders just need to be hone, bored out with oversized pistons [or just oversized rings] or are sleeves needed. That is just one example as there are similar situations throughout the engine.
Ok, good. I see now I could have phrased this better to start. The thing is, I dont know what needs to be done. I cant troubleshoot an engine. My thinking was to do an overhaul regardless of what specific needs there are. In other words, I could get a 40 year old engine and, in reality, it wouldnt need any work. But, the fact that it has 40 years on it, and the fact that I am looking to do a rebuild, I would do it. The plan (in my head) is take it apart. Have the block bored with larger cylinders and then get a kit (I know that seems to be a gray area so far as to what exactly a kit is and includes) with the correct pistons, and put it back together. In that case (again in my mind) it wouldnt matter what the engine needs, because it would get everything.

Meanwhile, regarding this diagnosis of a "cracked block", did you actually see the crack . . . . or could it be a popped freeze plug. It's just an unusual condition without an accompanying explanation of how this "condition" arose.
I botched this one. I spoke to the owner again and he said it needs a lower engine. I must have had cracked block in my head from a different car. In any case, I dont even know what a lower engine is, to be honest.

The reason for my questioning about the straight6 earlier is becuase i am considering two differnt cars.

1) '65 thunderbird - V8 needs lower engine

2) '64 falcon - straight 6 runs but I would want to do a rebuild since it is original engine and has never been rebuilt (and for the experience and to do with my son)

I didnt differentiate from the beginning since I thought that would confuse things and I also figured a rebuild = new block and rebuild kit.

So, have I confused things enough?
 

Last edited by rmathome; 04-11-16 at 10:36 AM.
  #19  
Old 04-11-16, 10:30 AM
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So, how does a Straight 6 get involved ?
 
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Old 04-11-16, 10:36 AM
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The Falcon is a straight 6, not a V6 like a just put in the last post (which I just updated). Sorry about that.
 
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Old 04-11-16, 11:05 AM
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Well, whatever you choose to do, take your time and be precise in identifying what you're going to do . . . . and why; what exact parts you're going to need to replace before ordering them. That old carpeting adage applies: "Measure twice . . . . cut once !"

Good luck !
 
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Old 04-11-16, 11:57 AM
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you can probably price out a remanufactured engine from your local parts store it will be a long block or short block witch does not have heads neither will be complete you usually have to install timing cover, oil pan, valve covers, intake, possibly lifters and heads if you go with a short block.
yes they sell rebuild kits for engines what they include can vary but usually include all bearings gaskets and seals and rings at minimum per example if you was reusing the pistons and the block doesn't need bored.
more complete kits will come with pistons and oil pump, freeze plugs. obviously you need to know what machine work was done prior to ordering to get correct size pistons and crank bearings.
but they usually do not come with camshaft, lifters or timing chain.
the machine shop can usually do more that just machine work they can often rebuild the heads, install cam bearings witch would keep you from having to buy some special tools.
 
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Old 04-11-16, 02:48 PM
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In any case, I dont even know what a lower engine is,
My guess would be the lower end which includes crankshaft and bearings.
 
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Old 04-11-16, 04:51 PM
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I think you will be overwhelmed with the sheer number of parts that come off an engine. Put a bolt on and you have to remove it to put a clamp under it. Just an unnerving organizational jungle that you will have to work through.
 
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Old 04-12-16, 07:09 AM
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I think you will be overwhelmed with the sheer number of parts that come off an engine.
Do most people get overwhelmed? That's not something I have heard before.
 
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Old 04-12-16, 07:54 AM
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A lot depends on how mechanically inclined you are. Some seem to pick it up quickly while I've run across others that no matter how much help/instruction they receive - they never seem to master it.
 
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Old 04-12-16, 09:33 AM
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You'll need lots of ziplock bags and a sharpie if you do a full tear down. Nuts and bolts come off, in to a labeled bag they go.
 
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Old 04-16-16, 07:41 AM
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Having rebuilt many Ford products from the sixties, my recommendation would be to select the Falcon instead of the T-bird. The Falcon is much simpler and parts are easier to find. Many Mustang parts will interchange perfectly with the Falcon and are still readily available from Ford. The Thunderbird - not so much. I rebuilt a '66 T-bird, quite similar to the '65. I remember that there was over 250' of vacuum hose alone that had to be replaced. My '66 had a 428 engine, quite similar to the 390, and its overhaul was pretty straight-forward. I have also rebuilt a '64 Mustang. The Mustang was probably the easiest rebuild ever. I would guess that the Falcon would be similar. All of my rebuilds were done in my garage as a hobby. One last thought - don't ever, not even for a minute think that you will make a profit on this. However, it will be a very fun project.
 
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Old 05-14-16, 09:24 PM
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Engine build

Here is what I did on my last rebuild. Not a Ford but a 258 AMC. It did not need a block. Tear engine completely down, to the bare block. Take to machine shop. Remove the freeze plugs. Have them remove the cam bearings, unless you have a cam bearing tool. Remove the oil gallery plugs. Have the bare block hot tanked, this makes.it It clean enough to eat off of. Have shop.check piston bores, and check if it will need align bored. You may also have them check deck height( head mounting surface).Also take the crank to the shop. Have them check the main and rod journals, and also check for straightness. They will inform you of what, if any cutting they do to the block and crank, such as boring cylinders, and turning the crank journals. If lucky, all the crank will need is polished. Have them hone the cylinders. There are different hone grits, which depend on whether you use chrome or cast rings. And lastly, have them install new cam bearings.
When ordering parts, buy the size needed after any cuting, like .030 oversize pistons and rings. Also oversized main and rod bearings size, if the shop had to turn the crank.
You can send the heads to the machine shop as well for rebuild. They will clean up the valve angle and valve sests, knurl the guides, install new valve springs and valve seals.
At this point you are ready to order parts. I would replace pistons, even if the bore remains stock. So if it were me I would order a set of pistons and rings, rod and main bearings, oil pump, timing chain set, gasket kit, freeze plug kit, lifters, and a new cam. Now is the time to decide if you want a stock cam, or maybe a mileage or torque cam. Follow cam manufacturers instructions for lube and break in. You can get new push rods, but unless they are damaged, I just clean them up and reuse. At this point you can start assembling the short block. Get a tube of Lubriplate 105 to assemble, use it on every point that moves. Torque crank and rod cap nuts Ford spec. Oh, have the machine shop inspect your rods, and have them press on the new pistons on the rods. They may want to resize the rods, so ask them what's up.
Be sure to lube the cam bearings with the lubriplate, and the cam lobes with the cam manufacturers lobe lube. I always install the cam first, then crank, piston/rods. Use fuel line on rod bolts so as to keep them from scatching cylinder walls when installing. Make sure the rods are put on in the right direction, and pistons will have an arrow facing the front, or say front on them. Always check this, fo be sure machine shop did not make a mistake. Install oil pump, clean the old pump pick up, or replace with new. When installing the crank seal be sure to soak it in oil if it is a rope type. Use lubriplate on neoprene seals. At this time.its time to install the pan.
Install timing gears and chain. Soak chain in oil. Be sure to align timing marks.
Tools needed. Torque wrench 1/2 ". Ring compressor. Hammer with wood handle to knock pistons in, or they also make a special piston hammer for install. Sockets for torque wrench. Engine stand.
Once short block is together, install heads. Soak new lifters in oil all night prior to install. I use a coffee can, put lifters in can, fill can will oil. I add cam lube to the lifter face as well. Install push rods and rocker arms. Add lubriplate to rocker pivot points. Torque these to Ford slec, or Fords spec, and their instructions.
Other parts need, new plugs, wires, points, cap rotor. New carb or rebuid old one. Distributor can be reused if not sloppy, or install a rebuilt one, or performance one.
A couple cans of engine paint makes it nice.

This is not exhaustive descrition, but hopefully gets you going. Remember, there will also be a lot of parts cleaning to do too. Good luck. 60's T-Birds are neat cars.
 
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